Jack Harris was back in a Hastings United Football Club shirt last night (Wednesday).
The striker was in United’s starting line-up as they began their pre-season friendlies with a 3-0 defeat at home to a Brighton & Hove Albion XI made of under-21 and under-18 players.
He’s going to be a massive player for us this season.Darren Hare
Harris scored eight times in 34 appearances for United during the first half of last season, but was released in December and subsequently joined fellow Ryman Football League Division One South outfit Hythe Town.
The 22-year-old had actually signed for Hythe for the coming season, which meant United had to issue a seven-day approach. United manager Darren Hare expects the transfer to be completed in the next week.
Hare said: “I’ve always liked Jack. We need someone who can run the channels, win headers, be a bit of a target man and I thought he was excellent (against Brighton). He’s going to be a massive player for us this season.”
The U’s began the match with their most experienced players on the field, including new boys Wayne Wilson, Steve Watt, Matt Bodkin and Frannie Collin, before introducing a number of youngsters in the second half, finishing the game with four 16-year-olds on the pitch.
Brighton opened the scoring with a header from a corner after five minutes and struck twice more in barely five minutes midway through the second period.
“I think satisfied would be the operative word,” continued Hare. “The main objectives were to have a good blow - and I think the boys in the first half got that - and not have any injuries - and we achieved that.
“It took us a little while to gel, but I think all the new players had spells where they showed some quality. Yesterday was more about fitness and getting them used to playing with each other.
“It was always going to be a tough game. It was our first game, and they’ve just come back from Portugal and obviously they’re full time. I thought first 10 minutes we were a bit tentative, but then we grew into the game.
“I was pleased with Bodkin, and I thought Wayne and Simon Johnson did quite well together. It was also really good to see the youngsters play in the second half; we’re going to need to rely on some of those.”
United: Taylor, Davies, Cole, Wilson, Watt, Smith, Bodkin, Johnson, Harris, Collin, Cruttwell. Subs (used): Welch, Black, Pritchard, Climpson, Foster, Holden, Akoto, Dullaway, Robb, Beale, Rose.
Hare said last week he was aiming to sign a goalkeeper who had just come out of the Football League.
He said yesterday: “We’re hopeful. He’s got a few personal problems at the moment - that was the reason he wasn’t there last night. We’re still working on that one. My plan is to get an experienced ‘keeper in.”
Hare added that Tyrell Richardson-Brown looks to be moving on. The striker played for Burgess Hill Town in their friendly against Lancing last weekend.
“I did speak to Tyrell at the beginning,” said Hare, whose son Josh this week joined National League South club Eastbourne Borough. “We’ve not managed to pursue that too much further.
“I’ve got other players I’m thinking about bringing in. There’s one or two I’m just being patient with. As I said before, some players are training at higher level clubs and it wouldn’t surprise me at the end of July if they start training with us.
“We’re assembling a good squad. There will be competition for places; it’s not a question of having 11 or 12 superstars and filling it up with kids.”
Hare also said that he has a ‘young player potentially coming at left-back’ and intends to play Sam Cole, who filled that role last night, further forward.
Hare added that he is keen to have a look at forward Bright Temba, who has done well in training, and midfielder Chris Cumming-Bart in a game situation. Both are on holiday at present.
United will continue their friendlies at home to Eastbourne Borough next Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm) and a United XI will travel to AFC Uckfield Town 48 hours later.
United will discover their 2016/17 league fixtures today, and you can find out who they will play and when at this website.
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